Olaf Scholz in Kyiv and Moscow
With warnings of an imminent invasion of Ukraine growing louder, hopes are high that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will be able to avert a war during his inaugural visit to Kyiv and Moscow. Scholz announced solidarity, financial aid and a potential moratorium on Nato accession at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday. Then he travelled to Moscow for talks with Putin on Tuesday. Europe's commentators voice hopes and fears.
Can Scholz prevent war?
Olaf Scholz is under enormous pressure to achieve a de-escalation during his trip to Kyiv and Moscow, The Irish Independent observes:
“The one thing we can say for certain is that by the end of this week most people in Ireland, and across the globe, will know who Mr Scholz actually is. Right now, he is perhaps best known for being the person who replaced Angela Merkel. ... German and international media billed Herr Scholz's two-legged mission as a last chance to avoid war kicking off. The Americans had pencilled in tomorrow as a likely time for a Russian invasion of Ukraine. So, no pressure at all there, Herr Scholz. All you have to do is stop another mini world war.”
Compromise still possible
There are signs of willingness to compromise, Corriere della Sera is pleased to report:
“There was an important passage in Scholz and Zelensky's joint press conference when both said that Nato membership for Ukraine was not on the agenda. The Ukrainian president said that the question of the Alliance's open door for Ukraine may just be a dream. Nobody knows when and how it will happen. Scholz defended the principle that every sovereign country has the right to apply to join Nato. However he pointed out that 'at the moment we have to look at the reality' and that the question of Ukraine's accession to the Atlantic Pact was 'not on the agenda'. So there was no giving in to the demands of the Kremlin, which wants a definitive rejection of Ukraine's accession, but a window of opportunity for a compromise was shown.”
Kyiv should put its Nato ambitions on ice
The Frankfurter Rundschau sees the solution in a moratorium on Ukraine's accession to Nato:
“If Moscow in return renounces deployments like those we're now seeing and creates transparency, both together could have the same effect as first aid at the scene of an accident: the danger to life would at least be averted for the time being. Of course, the West cannot force Ukraine onto this course, certainly not publicly and certainly not as the result of blackmail. That would be a violation of its own principles. After all, every nation should be free to decide on alliances. But this problem would be circumvented if Kiev came up with it itself and proposed a Nato moratorium. Has Scholz already left the idea with Kiev? Perhaps the proximity to the EU could be increased to compensate.”